Forthcoming

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

"We are more alike than we are different"v  Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Nepal Update with Radio Station Phoolwari

2015-10-30

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Manju is a Nepali activist working in a village near the Indian border in the densely populated fertile band across the length of Nepal called Terai or Madhes. She’s found herself in a community in revolt that poses a serious challenge to the new republic only weeks after it finalized a constitution. I hope the crisis I wrote about last week in CounterPunch will be resolved soon. Because, if Nepal doesn’t have leaders who can urgently unite the country and repel India’s suzerainty, the republic could be in serious jeopardy. 

I am reminded of my visit to the Terai to see Manju. I’d spent most of my career in the higher regions of Nepal and compared to what I’d known of those areas, I found the Terai so much like India. Still, I saw no hint of the tension that’s recently surfaced there; indeed the people I met expressed strong Nepali nationalist ideals and were proud of their infant democracy, particularly a new local radio station.

Unlike many compatriots, Manju did not take a job in the US after completing her PhD; she returned to her country to address some of its needs. Moreover she chose to do this in her ancestral village near Basantpur, beyond Janakpur, and far from the modern facilities of the capital.

Manju is a committed Nepali nationalist like others in her family. And she’s a sociologist and a feminist. But she didn’t choose the route we expected:-- join some foreign- funded NGO for women’s services where she’d command a good salary.  

When Manju returned to Nepal ten years ago, media was recognized as indispensable to the new democracy. Radio production could be done on a modest scale and idealistic young people were eager to join new media opportunities. Combining her interests in journalism and women Manju decided to establish a radio station and did so in a rural area where listeners would be local farmers and shopkeepers, teachers and school children.

Phoolwari Radio became one of more than 300 private, commercial micro radio stations that sprang up across the country. Phoolwari, under Manju’s direction, is the only one run entirely by women.

Manju was keen for me to meet her fellow producers so on a visit to Nepal in 2013 I flew to Janakpur and made my way from the airstrip first by rickshaw, then bus, then another rickshaw, to meet them. Facilities at Phoolwari Radio are modest but adequate, with sufficient power to reach villages in a radius of 20-25 miles. The seven women working (part-time) alongside Manju produce stories on a range of issues; they interview studio guests and also go into ‘the field’ to report on real conditions. Phoolwari is required to carry two 30-minute daily news bulletins from Kathmandu; the rest of the programs are their own productions. Besides production work, the team has to secure advertisements to pay operating expenses, and they have to compete with larger stations that reach their locality from farther afield. It was good to see my friend’s pride in a project that combines her commitment to women and to democracy through media.

Today Madhesi leaders across Terai are in a fierce confrontation with the central government. I expect that Manju, her co-workers at Phoolwari Radio and her neighbors in Basantpur are debating the controversial clauses in the new constitution. Negotiating this will be a real challenge for the radio station. END

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